Nelson County, Virginia
By Tommy Stafford
I didn’t know Opal Page. I wish I had. I knew so many people like she was described to me when growing up back in rural West Tennessee . This has been a tough week for all of us in Nelson and nearby. This is where we live, our home. Whether you were born and raised here, or if you moved here later in life, like we did, the realization that bad things happen to good people is alive and well. Opal was a good person. No. A great person. I didn’t have to know her to know that. Just ask anyone. What a tribute to a wonderful woman with such a tragic ending. Adults with their own children now, smile with tears in their eyes, remembering Mrs. Page and the effect she had on them when they were just children only a few years ago.
It’s so true how you view things differently once you have your own child. I look at our 7 month old and wonder how someone so innocent can turn out so different just a couple of decades later. There’s a triple tragedy here. No one wins. Three families have been forever changed. No birthday, no Christmas, no anniversary will ever be the same. Someone will always be missing.
It’s been tough for Yvette and me to decide where to be in the coverage on this sad, sad, event. Nelson County is such a beautiful place. Peaceful. Serene. Home. On the one hand we try to promote the good here and leave the bad behind. But, at the same time you are our neighbors, our friends, our family. If you knew about something that might harm us, I’d want you to let us know. We wanted you to know what was happening by the minute this past week. That’s why we felt it important to cover this story from the time it happened one week ago today, until the time the suspects were apprehended on Monday.
I didn’t know David Brooks until I met him back in the old Ashely’s Market in 2004. Having run for sheriff myself almost 20 years ago in Tennessee, I immediately became interested when David told me he was running for Sheriff one day here. I liked David, but knew nothing about him. I knew he was a man of integrity. He wasn’t about pomp and circumstance, he simply loved Nelson where he grew up and he loved the people living here. They are his friends, his family too. Sheriff Brooks lost a member of his Nelson family last week. He and his staff made a personal committment to find the people responsible for Mrs. Page’s murder. Having been a former lawman myself, their work wasn’t just good folks, it was exemplary. Catching both suspects in less than a week is a tremendous accomplishment. Thank these men and women in the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department. Thank the men and women in the other agencies that pitched in to apprehend the two suspects. No, they don’t always get it right on everything, but they did this time when it really counted.
There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said over the past week. If you have been reading our comments section, you have seen a wide range of emotions from the civil, to the vulgar. All of our Nelson family is hurting, regardless of who you are.
I know this week I held my wife and son just a little bit tighter. And I know that as I drive north out of Greenfield toward Afton I feel something missing. Though we never knew you personally Mrs. Page, we miss you already. Bad. Nelson has lost a precious member of its family.